David and Goliath - Student Activist in Michigan Fights University and Wins
Cheyenne Plott
November 16, 2017
David and Goliath - Student Activist in Michigan Fights University and Wins
If there was ever a David and Goliath story played out in student activism today, it is the story of Angela Little, former President of the Students for Life chapter at Eastern Michigan University. Most college students in their final year are focused on the job hunt, finding a career, and tying up loose ends in their coursework. In her final year, however, Angela stepped up to the role of President during an ongoing lawsuit the Students for Life chapter filed against Eastern Michigan University. Born and raised in a Christian home in Michigan, Angela always had a strong belief in the sanctity of life. When a friend of hers helped establish the Students for Life group at EMU during her freshmen year, Angela jumped in immediately. Angela started out by helping her friend pass out flyers and promote events on campus, and she soon became heavily involved. The Students for Life chapter wanted to bring the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) to campus. The GAP is a portable, visual display which draws parallels between abortion in the 21st century and historical genocide. When the Students for Life chapter applied to receive funding for the project, however, the university declined to provide it. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, who represented the Students for Life group in the lawsuit, the university considered the project too “biased” and “controversial” to fund despite the fact that a substantial portion of annual student fees are intended to fund student organization activities and programming. Law #41 of Morton's Laws of the Public Policy Process states: “In moments of crisis, the initiative passes to those who are best prepared.” In this case, the initiative passed to Angela as she assumed the role of President. She turned to the Leadership Institute for help. The Leadership Institute invited Angela to attend the 5-day Student Leadership Conference in Arlington, VA where she learned how to petition and how to conduct interviews in the press. Between the ongoing lawsuit and an increase in the number of campus events they hosted, the Students for Life chapter was garnering media attention, and it was in these moments that Angela utilized her interview training. Angela's LI training was not only a beneficial experience but connected her with other conservative student activists across the country. She was encouraged during the training to hear what other pro-life groups were doing on their campuses. The ideas and friendships shared during this training were a source of support when she went back to EMU's campus. After a lengthy legal battle, the Students for Life chapter won the case and the university revised its funding by-laws. The small pro-life student group came out victorious over the university's liberal bias and soon swelled in membership. Angela recognizes that her student activism experience “would not have been the same” without her LI training and the connections she made there. She now shares her story in her professional life with students who will soon be going off to face similar battles. Angela teaches math and science at a private Christian high school. There, she's able to share her story with her students and encourage them in preparation for college. “Life's going to be hard when you get to college,” she tells them. She encourages them saying: “You need to stand up for your beliefs because if you don't, who else will?” Angela's story proves that even a small student group, mighty in principle, can triumph over the giant of liberal bias in the university setting.
Writing is a skill, and it requires practice
Ben Woodward
November 13, 2017
Writing is a skill, and it requires practice
Winning people over to conservative principles requires those who work in the movement communicate clearly and persuasively. Effective writing is one of the most valuable skills you can possess. When I started out in the conservative movement, it did not take long before I was writing regularly, but it takes constant practice. If you work on the Hill, you are expected to correspond with constituents on complex policy standpoints. At a more senior level, you will be expected to write speeches that engage large audiences. If you want to work for a campaign, being able to formulate a clear message to compose literature that persuades residents to give their vote to your candidate will make you indispensable. I am no expert by any means, and work constantly to improve my skills. Here are some ways you can do the same. Read by Habit By reading every day, you will not only increase your vocabulary but expose yourself to new techniques which will reflect in your communication. I recommend The Writing System by Daniel Graham as a start. Also, reading the news every day serves the purpose of building your writing skills and keeping you informed. I understand, however, reading by habit comes more naturally to some than others. If you struggle to motivate yourself to read, try fiction books. Go to a coffee place where you will not be disturbed and leave your cell phone behind. Find Useful Blogs There are so many options available; websites like Grammarly and dailywritingtips.com can provide you with useful advice. Because there are so many options, feel free to try many different sites until you find one that works for you! Take a Workshop or Writing Course There are a multitude of courses and “gurus” out there who can help you improve your writing skills. Whether you want to find a specific kind of writing training (such as how to write a press release), or you want a more well-rounded training (like the Leadership Institute's Written Communications Workshop) there is something out there that will help you improve. Practice at Work Like a musical instrument, the more you practice writing, the more fluent you become. Many graduates today pick up bad habits at college that employers have to break. Look for opportunities at work to practice; perhaps you can help write marketing emails, blogs, or newsletters. Ask for frank and honest feedback you can use to improve. Remember, nobody is born a great writer. All of the best communicators had to learn and take criticism along the way. If you can develop the skill, you will be an asset to the conservative movement. Trust me, good writers are hard to find!
It’s Not Just Who You Know, But Where You Go
Ben Woodward
October 31, 2017
It’s Not Just Who You Know, But Where You Go
Some people are social butterflies; they don't just know how to work a room, but where to be and when. Cities like Washington, D.C. have events going on all the time. Many of them are great opportunities to meet new people, learn, and get free food! But while there are a ton of great events going on, how do you know which ones are going to be the most useful? Obviously, you can't be everywhere at once and after a long, busy work week, going to a happy hour can be the last thing on your mind. Knowing what events are going on and which ones you should prioritize is an important skill. So what resources are available to you? Newsletters Do your research and identify which organizations exist in your field and whether they are based in your town/city. If they are, subscribe to their newsletters. Remember that when organizations hold events, they want high attendance. That means they'll be pushing their events by email. Don't worry; I know constant emails can get frustrating. Once you have identified the organizations that are providing useful opportunities, you can unsubscribe from the rest. I personally recommend ConservativeJobs.com, Americas Future Foundation, Heritage Job Bank, which were very helpful to me when I first moved to Washington, D.C. Social Media Within a few months of moving into a new field, you will discover events through Facebook invites. Even if that is not the case, you will most likely see the events others are going to and decide if they are of interest. As you meet new people, the number of invitations you receive will increase. In the early stages, make sure you ‘like' every organization that interests you and you will be notified of their events. Facebook will even show you event recommendations based on your interests. You can also follow an organization on Twitter to learn more about their events. When I'm asked if social media is essential to a person's career, I say yes. By not having social media you will likely be excluded from events by those who depend on it to organize their affairs. I recommend following organizations like the Leadership Institute, Young American's for Liberty, the Charles Koch Institute, and American's for Prosperity to begin with. Eventbrite Most of us have been invited to an event through Eventbrite, or have been forwarded to the site to book tickets. But Eventbrite is also an incredibly useful way to keep in touch with the events happening in your area of interest. Whether your location is your priority, price, or issue area, Eventbrite is a great way to know what's going on. When you go on Eventbrite, you can search by category and location. I recommend searching the “Government” category, which then gives you the chance to see events from Federal, to policy, or party political. Many of these events are career focused. Friends and Coworkers I saved the best until last. Word of mouth. Ultimately, no website is going to know your interests and your ambitions better than your friends and colleagues. Make it known you want to go to more events and get to know more people in your career area. By doing so, you are far more likely to be invited to events as and when your friends discover them. In many ways, you'll find you have a team of people searching out good events for you just by the nature of being in a social group. Make sure you return the favor and invite others to events too, and then people will feel more inclined to assist. Remember, even if you are an outgoing person who makes connections easily, you still have to put in some work to hunt down events and grow your network within the movement. Happy hunting!
Social Conservatives “must win in politics”
Abbey Lee
October 25, 2017
Social Conservatives “must win in politics”
“Politics is a shaping part of culture. It's where we determine what's good, what's true, what's just, what's right, what's moral, and it's where we determine what's beyond the pale and acceptable.” On October 4, Terry Schilling visited the members of the Leadership Institute's Wednesday Wake-up Club Breakfast to speak frankly about progress in the social conservative movement. Terry, the Executive Director of the American Principles Project, has worked in many areas of the nonprofit world, including communications, development, and grassroots. An Illinois native, he has worked with several state and local candidates, among them his father, Rep. Bobby Schilling. Addressing the attendees, he spoke from experience in the work he has dedicated to the cause. He has witnessed how abortion has become more and more acceptable in American culture simply because it has been made legal. Terry urges those who stand for traditional, conservative values to support and invest in those causes. “Social conservatives are in danger of losing everything, and it's because we've abdicated our duty and responsibility to invest in politics,” Terry said. For too long, the right has merely defended themselves against attacks from the left. Social conservatives must do more than educate themselves and vote. It is their duty to play offense and invest in the future of the conservative movement to maintain the traditional values held dear. He parts with impactful words, saying, “Not only can we win, but we must win in politics because the future of America depends on it.” Leadership Institute's Wednesday Wake-up Club Breakfast hosts conservative speakers and attendees for breakfast on the first Wednesday of each month. To become a breakfast club member, visit this link.
Studio Wizard Jared Reni Named Employee of the Quarter
Carol Wehe
October 19, 2017
Studio Wizard Jared Reni Named Employee of the Quarter
On Wednesday, October 18, Morton Blackwell announced Jared Reni as Employee of the Quarter at the Leadership Institute staff meeting. Strong applause met Jared as he walked to the front of the room. "In addition to directing the Communications Training Division, Jared has gone above and beyond his job description to support every department at LI," Morton said. "Jared has taught himself how to operate LI's studio equipment and has made sure the equipment and resources are available to all of LI. The work Jared has done allows for higher quality trainings, webinars, and online programs," Morton continued. "And, These additional efforts have not come at the expense of Communications Training. Jared and Autumn held 39 training programs and trained 474 attendees in the last quarter alone." Jared is now Director of Communications Training and Studio Programs and runs communications training with Autumn Campbell on his team. More cheers met Morton's request to join him "in congratulating LI's employee of the quarter -- Jared Reni."
Your elevator pitch -- 20 seconds to make an impression
Kate Lipman
October 16, 2017
Your elevator pitch -- 20 seconds to make an impression
Picture the scenario; you are an intern or junior staffer in the elevator of your work building, and a Vice President walks in… what do you do? Do you burst into tears, fall on your knees and beg for a job? Or do you seize the moment and deliver your elevator pitch? This brief but persuasive 20-second pitch is your chance to engage a potential employer in conversation in a confident but respectful way. By using this opportunity correctly, you can make a strong impression and turn them into a lasting connection. Here are some tips for your elevator pitch. Be natural. If you try to hero worship them, they won't take you seriously. Likewise, if you deliver the speech like you've been practicing it in the mirror, they won't take you seriously. Be respectful but confident. If you want a job working for them somewhere down the line, you have to earn their respect. A great way to do this is to bring up a topic of mutual interest. Perhaps you saw them speak, or read one of their articles. Draw from that to start a conversation. Instead of “Wow it's amazing to meet you, I'm a huge fan of… and I've always wanted to work there.” Try “Hi… my name is… and I work at… I attended your recent talk on… and you made some really interesting points.” Don't ask them for anything. Most executives are experienced enough to separate those legitimately interested in them and their organizations from the users simply trying to find their next job or promotion. Just like with any networking opportunity, the goal is to establish a relationship and then you can work on turning them into a connection. Be genuine and show a legitimate interest in them. By getting their business card, you can follow up and ask them for coffee later. Instead of: “I saw that there's a vacancy at… I'd like to apply; would you give the recruiter my resume?” Try: “How did you come to work in…? I am interested in pursuing a career in this field and would value any advice you have.” Let them talk. Most people enjoy talking about themselves, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. By letting someone talk about himself or herself, you are demonstrating a legitimate interest in them and allowing the conversation to flow naturally rather than simply pitching yourself. The disadvantage of this can be that by letting them do all the talking, you don't get the chance to impress. Try to establish a connection with what they're saying and something you have accomplished. For example, if they talk about public policy, try to contribute to the conversation and offer an informed opinion. Instead of: “That's interesting… yes… I understand.” Try: “That's a good point; I have recently been working on a similar project to…” Swap business cards and follow up. If possible, you should aim to swap business cards at the end of the conversation. Remember, it is more important to get their business card than it is to give them yours. By getting their card, you give yourself the opportunity to follow up and turn a chance encounter into a real connection. Instead of: “Here is my business card, if you're free for coffee sometime I'd love to learn more.” Try: “Do you have a business card on you? I would be very interested to follow up with you can continue this conversation at your convenience.” When chance encounters occur with your role models, it can be a daunting experience. If you show confidence, sell yourself, and show a legitimate interest, you will be able to use the opportunity to secure a lasting connection.
Learning to Manage Expectations
Ben Woodward
October 2, 2017
Learning to Manage Expectations
If you're guilty of being a people pleaser, it can be very tempting to overpromise in the workplace. Whether it's your colleagues, boss, or clients, you don't want to admit to yourself or others that you are balancing too many responsibilities. In the workplace, under promise and over deliver. By overpromising, you heighten people's expectations to unrealistic levels, meaning that even significant accomplishments do not appear as such. However, by managing people's expectations, you can ensure that when you do succeed at a task, your work gets the appreciation it deserves. Here are a few tips to help manage expectations: Take time to strategize Before you make any promises, make sure you look ahead to determine where the roadblocks will be and how you plan to overcome them. Be honest with yourself about how long it will take to accomplish. This will affect the results you can expect to achieve and how long you expect it to take. Also, carefully examine the urgency of the task. Work is a constant battle of priorities, so make sure your other tasks are not suffering because you have over-promised. By strategizing, you may find ways that you can exceed the expectations you have set, either by completing the task promptly or to a higher standard. Be honest and communicate Keep people in the loop about the progress of your work. If a client or your boss is expecting something and you know it is not achievable within the given period, explain the situation rather than disappointing them. It may be more pressing tasks push back your deadline. If that is the case, do not wait until you are asked for an update, contact the stakeholders and reset their expectations. Don't be afraid to say no Ultimately, your boss's projects and those of your clients will always come first. It can be very easy, especially if you like your work colleagues, to promise assistance even if you do not have time. Having a reputation in the office for being a team player is important, but it should not come at the expense of your responsibilities. When you have to say no to people, say no and explain why you cannot take on any more responsibilities. Ask for help If you're struggling to meet the expectations of your current project, don't be afraid to go to your boss. Just make sure you are in a position to present a solution to the problem at hand. It may be your boss agrees your solution is the best, or they may suggest something else. By keeping your boss in the loop they will know what to expect from you. However, if you don't, they will assume you can complete the task unaided. By managing expectations, you put yourself in the driver's seat on any given project and ensure the work you're doing is fully appreciated.
Christian Libertarian Environmentalist Capitalist Lunatic Farmer Fights Big Gov't
Abbey Lee
September 21, 2017
Christian Libertarian Environmentalist Capitalist Lunatic Farmer Fights Big Gov't
The first Wednesday of September, conservatives from all backgrounds gathered to hear Joel Salatin. Joel, a self-proclaimed Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer, offered a refreshing perspective at the September Wednesday Wake-up Club Breakfast. He shared stories about his own issues with government intervention as a small-scale Virginia farmer. “Food, the water we drink, and the air we breathe are in common.” Often, conservatives and libertarians focus on individualism, but Joel, co-owner of Polyface Farm, argues that food freedom and the danger of government intervention in small farms and businesses is of concern to us all. He shared one story about a time when friends and neighbors urged Joel to create and sell what he called “Polyface hot pockets” or meat pies made from livestock on his farm. When the inspectors discovered he didn't have a bathroom in the industrial kitchen designed to make the hot pockets, he was told he couldn't sell them at all. Joel explains, “Whenever a regulatory context is prejudicial against ‘small,' it is a bad regulation.” He has a product, and consumers who are willing to buy the product, but government regulations halt progress in its tracks by forcing him -- a small business owner -- to build a $30,000 bathroom. Joel witnesses firsthand how regulations discourage entrepreneurial spirit and keep consumer-desired products out of the market. Watch Joel's entire talk here and join us at our next breakfast with Terry Schilling, the executive director of American Principles Project, on October 4.
Caught Between a Job Offer and a Job Offer!
Ben Woodward
September 18, 2017
Caught Between a Job Offer and a Job Offer!
If you're searching for a job and finding the process difficult, I'm willing to bet that the prospect of competing job offers would be a dream come true. Let's be honest, it's hardly a bad situation to find yourself in. When the situation arose for me, I regret how I handled it. Fresh out of university, I was desperate to get a job in the UK Parliament. When I successfully got to the final round of interviews I was excited. My instincts told me the interview had been a big success. We even bonded over our mutual love of F1 racing. After being told to expect a decision within a week, I was contacted at the same time by a friend offering me a different opportunity. With my heart set on Parliament, I waited. Four weeks later I received the dreaded email telling me that I had been unsuccessful. The alternative opportunity my friend had sent me was now being advertised. Thankfully I got the job. But I made a bad first impression by failing to be honest and talk to both parties. Here is what you should do if you're ever caught in this position. Get yourself a written job offer. The job offer is not technically made until it's formally written out. If you're given a verbal job offer, thank them and tell them how excited you are at the prospect of working for them. Then ask them to put the offer in an email. Explain the situation. Once you have the written offer, be honest. Tell them that you are very excited about the opportunity but that you have another interview scheduled and would like time to weigh up your options. If they tell you they need an answer urgently then you'll have to decide whether it is worth the risk. My advice is to take the job offer if it's an opportunity you think you would still enjoy and benefit from. If you have more time, explain the situation to your other potential employer. You may find that the interview for the next job helps make your decision before you have to discuss other offers. You will likely get a sense of your success, whether the organization is somewhere you want to work, and whether you think the other offer provides a better opportunity. If you find that your instincts were right, and you do want to work at the second organization, tell them. At the end of your interview, be honest and explain that they are your preferred choice however you have another offer pending and see whether they can commit to a decision in a shorter amount of time. One last thing... It's not an easy situation to find yourself in. Ultimately, you will have to decide whether the risk is worth compromising your current offer. By taking these steps and being honest and respectful to the competing employers, you can help mitigate the risks and hopefully give yourself the time you need to secure both offers.
Seize the Internal Promotion
Ben Woodward
August 28, 2017
Seize the Internal Promotion
If you work at a smaller organization, your next promotion doesn't entirely depend on your performance. At a small organization, you may have to wait for a vacancy to arise – or create your own position from nothing. There's one thing you can be sure of though, if you don't ask, you don't get. When you hear the whisperings you've been waiting for, and the person one step above you in the chain of command is about to move on to their next opportunity, how do you approach the situation? There's a lot to think about. Has that person announced it yet? Who else will be applying? How are you going to pitch yourself as their successor? Don't rely on others to recognize you. If you don't ask, you don't get! To ensure you are in prime position, think about the following five angles. Who is hiring for the role? The difficulty with applying for promotion is that there has always been a tier of seniority between you and your potential new boss. This means that your access to them was limited, but now you're asking this person to take a big chance on you. Find out about the person hiring, what do their employees think of them? What qualities do they value most in their team? Answering these questions will give you the framework to prepare your pitch. Who will recommend you? Whether or not you know the individual hiring for the position, asking for recommendations is essential. If the staffer hiring is senior in your department it is likely they will already be aware of your work. However, it never hurts to remind them through people they trust. If you are applying for a different department, the manager will be far more likely to choose you over employees he knows well if he has heard recommendations for you from respected colleagues. What's your case? Just like with any job application you should have a clear understanding of the role you will be performing and why your previous accomplishments make you a prime candidate. Study the job description carefully and prepare a formal written application for the job. Request a formal meeting. This is your opportunity to sit down with the hiring manager and discuss the role seriously. This is not your chance to ask for any special favors, but to sit down and seriously explain that you would like to be considered for the role and to hand over your formal application. Remember that just because you work at the organization you are not entitled to the role. You should be prepared to interview at a later date. What's your pitch? If you are invited to interview for the position following your formal application, remember to treat it as you would any other interview. Your advantage however is your in-depth understanding of the organization and all of the respected colleagues who can vouch for you. Be confident in what you've achieved, what you plan to achieve, and you can score that well-earned promotion!
LI Graduate Makes a Difference for D.C. Kids
Autumn Campbell
August 25, 2017
LI Graduate Makes a Difference for D.C. Kids
Ashley Carter set the bar high in 2016. As the only Republican D.C. elected last year, she is also the only Republican woman elected to this at-large seat in D.C. history. Ashley's passion for her community combined with her upbeat personality set her on track to win last election season. Ashley Carter is a long-time graduate of the Leadership Institute. I followed up with Ashley after she took LI's TV Workshop, On-camera. Since she won the election, Ashley has addressed educational issues through her three-pronged approach: (1) Raise the graduation rate; (2) Push for more career training and technical education resources; and (3) Add more trained volunteers and nonprofit resources to the classroom. School choice is a priority for Ashley. Over the next four years, Ashley plans to push for excellence in education through more school voucher opportunities. Ashley credits her success to listening to the members of her community. “It's less about party and more about the community,” Ashley says. If implementing conservative education policy isn't enough, Ashley stays active through her volunteer work, training for a half marathon, and serving as Director of Coalitions at the Independent Women's Forum. Ashley offered advice to conservative activists: “You're going to face adversity, but you just need to keep going. Had I stopped, I wouldn't be where I am today.” While Ashley continues the conservative fight for Washington, D.C.'s education, what's her challenge to fellow conservatives? “Don't shy away from your beliefs!” This is an update on LI's August 24, 2016 blog post. Read this blog post here. The Leadership Institute offers more than 47 types of training programs, working with more than 1,876 conservative student groups, and helping employers connect with conservative job seekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, LI has trained more than 188,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit www.LeadershipInstitute.org.
Dr. William Murphy -- When LI Grads Succeed, Conservatism Succeeds
Ben Woodward
August 23, 2017
Dr. William Murphy -- When LI Grads Succeed, Conservatism Succeeds
Often in politics, there are doers, and there are thinkers. The doers knock on doors, build organizations, and lobby for their movement. The thinkers research and compose policy proposals; they're academics who shape the way we see the world. Both are assets to the conservative movement, and both are necessary to succeed. Dr. William Murphy encompasses both qualities. A Professor at the New England Institute of Technology, Dr. Murphy specializes in U.S. foreign policy and national security. He is a veteran, Harvard graduate, former President at Peak Performance Technology Partners, and was Finance Director at Bateman for Congress in 1992 where he first met Leadership Institute President, Morton Blackwell. But it's his next project that's potentially his most exciting yet! After discussing his plans with Morton, Dr. Murphy intends to establish an advocacy based organization which will campaign to make Congress more efficient at requesting information from the executive branch. Good Government Now will promote four key proposals for strengthening legislative oversight and investigative capabilities: Rule of information requests and subpoenas, create inherent contempt enforcement procedures, resurrect and reinvigorate criminal contempt enforcement, and increase civil contempt enforcement statute. Dr. Murphy says that the Leadership Institute has been invaluable in his career. Not only through the skills he has learned in the many trainings he attended, such as LI's Television and Digital Communications Workshops, and Fundraising Training, but also because he can network with LI's expert faculty who have provided him with the guidance to succeed. “I have benefitted immeasurably from LI's outstanding training programs. LI's presidential transition support operations, as well as the excellent coaching and career services it offers, are invaluable resources." Besides the army, Dr. Murphy says that there is no organization he feels such loyalty for than LI. “Everyone there is unselfish and dedicated to the cause,” he said. The Leadership Institute is proud to call Dr. William Murphy a graduate. Countless successes have been won by the Leadership Institute's 189,476 graduates. Some have been elected to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, others work for the Administration, lead nonprofits, and are winning for conservatism across the world. When LI graduates succeed, the conservative movement succeeds. Leadership Institute offers more than 47 types of training programs, works with more than 1,878 conservative student groups, and helps employers connect with conservative job seekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, LI has trained more than 189,476 conservative activists, students, and leaders. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders.
Dress for Success
Annamarie Rienzi
August 14, 2017
Dress for Success
On Monday, August 7, more than 30 women came to the Leadership Institute (LI) to network, shop, and learn how to dress for success. Partnering with the Independent Women's Forum and the Ladies of Liberty Alliance, LI gathered enough professional clothing for each attendee to take home at least one outfit. In addition, attendees heard from Sonya Gavankar, former Miss D.C., and multimedia host and content creator. Her lecture was filled with great tips and tricks to help young ladies navigate professional fashion without being overwhelmed. She broke down a lot of misconceptions about office fashion choices and entertained the audience with her anecdotes. Here are three key lessons learned about professional dressing for women. Be honest with yourself about what looks good on you. Sometimes what you think looks good may not, in fact, be the most flattering. Wearing tight clothes runs the risk of not being taken seriously in the workplace. Whereas wearing baggy clothes runs the risk of looking sloppy. You should find clothes which are work appropriate and also give you confidence. While shopping, surround yourself with friends who are honest and frank with you. Take turns trying on new work outfits and giving feedback. You don't have to sacrifice personal style to look professional. As long as your clothes are work appropriate, certain liberties can be taken to tailor clothes to your style. An excellent example of this is to dress professionally but look for ways to incorporate a splash of color into your outfit. This may be an accessory or wearing a brightly colored jacket. Don't dress for work how you'd dress for the weekend. Dress codes are more relaxed at organizations than they used to be, which means there's some ambiguity about what women can wear. Because you never know when a meeting may be sprung on you, make sure you don't overstep the boundary between smart casual and casual. If in doubt, look for a female executive at your organization who you admire, and who dresses well. Use her for inspiration. Attendees were grateful to hear Gavankar's advice. They were especially thankful for her time as she stayed during the “shopping” period and reviewed the ladies' outfit choices as they tried on clothes. The unclaimed clothes were donated to the not-for-profit organization, Dress for Success, which provides professional development and attire to women.
ADF’s Alan Sears and LI’s Morton Blackwell Friends in Liberty
Carol Wehe
August 9, 2017
ADF’s Alan Sears and LI’s Morton Blackwell Friends in Liberty
It is often said, our role models challenge us to become our best self. In the case of Alan Sears, one of his role models taught him valuable lessons to be successful in conservative politics. Alan Sears, former President of Alliance Defending Freedom (1993-2017), first crossed paths with LI President Morton Blackwell in 1967 in Kentucky. They've been through the gamut of conservative politics through the years – on campaigns, in the Reagan administration, and as presidents of two non-profits. “When I worked in the Reagan administration, when I worked in the private law firm, everything I have done had the hand of Morton in it,” Alan said. Back then, Alan was a college student and left school for a few semesters to work on a campaign in Kentucky. At the same time, Morton was the Executive Director of the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) and ran the youth campaign for Louie B. Nunn for Governor of Kentucky. “My relationship and knowledge of Morton Blackwell dates back to, unbelievably, 1967 in Kentucky,” Alan recalls 50 years later. “My family is from Kentucky, I went to the University of Kentucky, and I actually dropped out of school twice, two semesters, to work for Louie.” “Every time I was with Louie,” Alan continued, “he would sit there and every time, it didn't matter who it was or what they were doing on the campaign, he would tell us about a man named Morton Blackwell. He would tell us, ‘everybody needs to be like Morton.' Morton got him elected to office against all odds.” At that time, liberals and unions ran the state. “Morton had really pulled off a miracle to help Louie get elected as Governor in this really hardcore Democrat state, with a very strong union presence. So I kept in contact with the guy,” Alan said. Morton went on to develop the Youth Leadership School (YLS) out of his success running youth campaigns and training student leaders during his time with the CRNC. The YLS became known as the “bootcamp of politics” because of how much valuable experience-driven training Morton packed into this two-day training. He made the YLS the flagship school of his Leadership Institute. After they saw the value of Morton's youth campaign strategy, Kentucky Governor Louie B. Nunn and many other leaders began to send young people to Morton's Youth Leadership School. “I've referred countless people to the Youth Leadership School,” Alan said. “Morton is a builder. He is a guy who understands the importance of personnel.” In 1972, Morton came up with the maxim, “personnel is policy.” That's something Alan heard from Morton and took to heart, especially running his own organizations. “Personnel is policy. It is the life blood of every organization that I have ever run,” Alan said. “Whether it was government, private practice, charitable, or ministry. I have adopted that slogan.” In between political campaigns, his work for U.S. Senators from Kentucky, and helping on President Reagan's 1976 and 1978 campaigns, Alan completed his degree and became a lawyer. Morton's tenure as Special Assistant to the President on President Reagan's White House Staff (1981-1984), Alan began working at the Department of Justice. He worked under both AG William Smith and Ed Meese. He served in both Reagan and Bush administrations before turning his attention to Alliance Defending Freedom. For 23 years, Alan ran Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a faith-based organization dedicated to defending religious liberty. Leadership Institute and ADF often partner on college campuses to find, support, and defend conservative college students struggling under the liberal bias rampant there. “ADF has won over 400 contested legal matters with private campuses or universities,” Alan says. “In addition to that, Morton has helped many students know that they have rights under the Constitution and that universities cannot just walk over them.” Alan says of all the lessons he's learned from Morton, “Being steadfast is a big one. Morton has withstood the storm in Washington, D.C. Once people get into the Beltway they get enamored with relationships in the Beltway and they become people pleasers. They lose their energy. Not Morton Blackwell. Morton is steadfast.” “Morton is a great friend to me and to the entire liberty movement.”
How to Communicate With Your Liberal Friends and Neighbors – Without Alienating Them
Autumn Campbell
August 3, 2017
How to Communicate With Your Liberal Friends and Neighbors – Without Alienating Them
We've all been there. We've been unfriended on Facebook during the 2016 election cycle, forced into an awkward political discussion over Thanksgiving dinner, or attacked on Twitter for making a political comment. Yes, the current political climate is hostile; but there is a way to communicate effectively without losing all of your friends. Keep your point clear and concise. Rambling will get you nowhere in a heated discussion. Instead, stay clear-headed and stay on the topic at hand. Use personal stories and experiences. Many you converse with will find it hard to argue against your personal experience. Tie your experience in with why you believe what you believe. You can then back up your experience with facts and statistics. Meet emotion with emotion. Do not shy away from empathy. You can stand your ground while being empathetic to the concerns of the other person. Although these three steps seem simple, you'll be surprised at how calm and level-headed you'll feel at the end of the conversation. Who knows? Your friend may even see your point of view! Leadership Institute offers more than 47 types of training programs, works with more than 1,868 conservative student groups, and helps employers connect with conservative job seekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, LI has trained more than 187,207 conservative activists, students, and leaders. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders.
The Walls Have Ears
Ben Woodward
July 31, 2017
The Walls Have Ears
You may be surprised to learn that the number of staff working each day to advance the conservative movement is small. In Washington, D.C., it's a few thousand at most. This is great for your career! Working in the small DC conservative movement, it is easy to get to know the influential players who can support your career advancement. But reputations are made very quickly, and for those less savvy who don't mature quickly, simple mistakes can be destructive. One of the worst mistakes anyone can make in Washington, D.C. is to bad mouth their boss or their organization. You can avoid these three common mistakes. Speaking badly of your employer on social media It is surprising how frequently profe ssionals will speak negatively of their bosses on social media. Remember that not only will this be seen by colleagues, and very likely your employers, but your future employers will read your social media. Ranting about your boss today could risk alienating your potential boss tomorrow. After all, no one wants to hire someone who may badmouth them in future. Speaking badly of your employer during an interview “What did you like least about your last job?” We've all been asked this question during an interview, and I have struggled to answer. By falling into the trap of badmouthing your former boss, you convince the interviewer that they may be the next target of your public scorning or worst case scenario, your last boss may hear about it. Instead, you should answer the question by saying: “While there were many aspects of my previous job which I enjoyed such as…, I would have liked to have had more of an opportunity to… which is why I have applied for this job.” Speaking badly of your employer during networking events We've all been there. It's been a rough day, perhaps you have been frustrated by your supervisor, but there is a time and a place to complain about your work, and it's not at networking events. You run the risk of alienating conservatives who may know your boss. In the worst case scenario, your comments could get back to your employer, and your career will suffer. So what should you do instead? There is a time and a place to address your concerns at work. So instead of complaining about your boss, consider how you can constructively approach the situation. Ask for a private meeting Never criticize your boss in front of colleagues. It will damage their authority in front of the team and is more likely to frustrate them than anything. Have your conversation in private if you believe your boss should be taking a different approach to a project. Know what you want to say Consider writing down your specific concerns and what you want to say in advance. Structure your feedback positively, instead of “I don't agree with your decision…” say “I think we could consider approaching the project this way…” If your boss agrees with you, then great! If not, respect their decision. Ultimately it's their call. Ask a mentor If you find you do need to express serious concerns about your employer, find someone you can trust to give you sound advice and keep it confidential. This person is perhaps a close friend or family member, or another professional who exercises sound judgment. Use them to guide you in your decision making. Know your organization's procedures In the worst case scenario, where you feel mistreated, figure out your organization's formal complaints process and use it. Your relationship with your employers, past and present, can be a positive one if you maintain your professionalism. By keeping your employers on your side, you can rely on strong references, potentially great mentors, and a support base for your career in the conservative movement.
Youth coordinator mobilizes support, propels Air Force Brigadier General to Congressional victory
Sara Wajda
July 28, 2017
Youth coordinator mobilizes support, propels Air Force Brigadier General to Congressional victory
“Pack your bags, Sara. We're getting on a plane in 24 hours to make you the new Youth Director for the campaign.” It took a second for those words from my colleague at the Don Bacon for Congress campaign to sink in. Even now, I still can't believe it sometimes. Let me tell you about the journey you put me on — that helped a committed conservative and retired Air Force Brigadier General win election in a battleground district. God had a different plan When someone asked me why I would ever want to get involved in politics, my first answer was shocking. I didn't want to go into politics. I actually wanted to become a labor and delivery nurse, but obviously God had a different plan for me. As my freshman year at Creighton University in Nebraska came to a close, the former youth director on now-Congressman Don Bacon's campaign invited me to join the team. Intrigued, I told myself I would get my feet wet in campaigning, but nothing more. In a few weeks I was knee-deep in campaigning! LI's Youth Leadership School opens new doors Shortly after joining the Bacon campaign, the Leadership Institute's “boot camp of politics” — their Youth Leadership School — came to town in Omaha. At the school, I gained an abundance of knowledge I could use both on college campuses and on the campaign trail. After the two-day, intensive training session, the campaign asked me to fly to Arlington, Virginia to receive further training and become the new youth director on Don Bacon's campaign. In Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, the race was neck-and-neck with a Democrat incumbent congressman, Brad Ashford. Armed with Leadership Institute training, another youth coordinator and I quickly canvassed every major college campus in Nebraska's second district and organized students to volunteer and vote for Don Bacon. More than 150 students regularly volunteered on Don Bacon's campaign! Hundreds more pledged to vote for him. The Youth for Bacon groups we organized worked 11,300 man-hours for the campaign and knocked on more than 125,000 doors. The Congressman himself credits the Leadership Institute's practical, tried-and-true training with his victory. From youth coordinator to Institute intern — and beyond Following the Bacon victory, I received an invitation to intern at the Leadership Institute. After my amazing previous experience with LI, I knew this was an opportunity I could not turn down. As an LI intern, I grew leaps and bounds in both my career and personal life. I had the opportunity to rub elbows with the most influential leaders in the conservative movement. I worked as a true member of the Institute team, not just someone who makes copies and gets coffee. Through numerous networking and career opportunities, I landed my job at the National Right to Work Committee, where I lobbied for federal Right to Work legislation. Life-changing opportunities abound at the Leadership Institute The Leadership Institute changed my life. Without the LI training my colleagues and I brought to the campaign, Congressman Don Bacon would not have defeated a Democrat with a 60 percent favorability rating. Without LI, I would not be on a path to advance conservative principles nationwide. Without LI, I truly believe the left would have taken the majority in the House and the Senate. I know that I have found success by dint of my commitment and hard work, but I also know that were it not for the Leadership Institute, none of the opportunities I've had would've been possible. I'm so grateful to Morton Blackwell, to the Leadership Institute — and especially to donors like you whose support helps make this country great. Sara is now back in Nebraska. At just 20 years old, she continues her political career as the state-wide Field Director for Governor Pete Ricketts' reelection campaign. Please join the Leadership Institute in congratulating her on her excellent work advancing the conservative movement at such a young age.
Using Snapchat As An Activist
Stephen Rowe
July 21, 2017
Using Snapchat As An Activist
More than 160 million people check Snapchat every day -- and seven out of 10 of them are under the age of 35. The popular mobile app first became known for users posting videos and pictures that “self-destruct” (disappear) after they're played. But there's more to Snapchat than that. Members of Congress, media companies from the Wall Street Journal to the Food Network, and media personalities like Bret Baier are all on it too. Here's how you can make the most of Snapchat as an activist. #1 Usegeofilters The next time you're thinking of flyers for your event, think of Snapchat geofilters too. Geofilters are custom designs (think stickers) that overlay on Snapchat photos. They're limited to a specific location, known as a “geo-fence.” Example geo-fences may be inside a sports stadium, at a wedding venue, or a political rally or other event. You can create your own on-demand geofilters for any event to help spread your message. When people post a photo or video to Snapchat inside your pre-set geo-fence, they'll see your filter as an option. When they select it, they're sharing their photo or video plus your filter with their friends. Starting at just $5, geofilters are often cheaper than the printing costs of flyers -- and have the potential to reach far more people. That $5 goes far: 20,000 square feet or half the size of an NFL football field. You can use free design programs like Canva to create your custom design. Geofilters must be 1080x1920 pixels and saved as a PNG, a common type of graphics file. It is best to place your filter in the top or bottom quarter of the screen so the filter does not block the original photo. Choose when and where you want your custom design to be active. Then submit your design to Snapchat at least 24 hours in advance. (You can submit your design here.) The next day, you can see data about how your filter performed. #2 Create your story Snapchat lets you create custom stories within a specific location (yes, the geo-fence again). That means that anyone using Snapchat inside the geo-fence can contribute to a group story. You can select friends within your desired location to contribute to your story, or you can set it up so that friends of friends can also join in and see the fun. This all happens free of charge. This means more publicity for your events, conferences, and more. Your next event can be full of attendees sharing their experiences with their friends and on the geofenced story. You can create up to three custom Stories of your own. You can post an unlimited number of times in stories created by others. To make your own custom Story, swipe right on the home screen then click the plus symbol in the top right of your screen. Then select Geofence and pick your desired location. #3 BONUS: Take LI's Online Training: Emerging Social Media Platforms Structured as fun, easy-to-understand introductions, the three days of LI's Emerging Social Media Platforms Workshop will get you up and running on new, popular social media platforms -- including Snapchat. Each day, you will complete "deep dive" into Instagram (Monday), Snapchat (Tuesday), and Facebook Live (Wednesday). You can check out the full agenda – and sign up – here. You will learn: • how to set up your account and choose from the different types of posts for Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook Live; • the meaning common terms and acronyms, so you can maximize your presence; and • lessons learned from how campaigns, media companies, and conservative organizations are using each platform. Register for Emerging Social Media Platforms workshop.
How Conservative Recruiters Can Attract the Best Talent
Ben Woodward
July 17, 2017
How Conservative Recruiters Can Attract the Best Talent
Many of us have been a job seeker, an interviewee, and a new staff member. It is a painful process. However, on the other side of the coin, the recruiter has a hard time as well. Attracting and finding the best candidate is tough. From the standpoint of a recruiter, you're making a significant investment, not just financially. The recruiter has to consider whether their current staff can work with this person on a daily basis and whether they are worth a long-term investment. In other words, is the potential hire on track for leadership one day? Is this somebody who is going to make the organization more effective? The wrong choice can severely affect team morale, cost money, and ultimately, damage the organization as a whole. To attract the best talent, recruiters should place emphasis on mission, culture, advancement, and training. The mission of your organization, its reputation, and role in the movement can attract talent. How is it that organizations such as the Leadership Institute, Charles Koch Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation, and many others have a wealth of strong applications for every job advertised? Conservatives understand the purpose of those organizations and their place in the movement. The work they do is tangible and, most importantly, valuable. Talented conservatives want to feel that they will make a substantial contribution to the movement and that their work will advance their philosophy. By making it clear to the candidate what the organization's role is in the movement, and how they will be contributing, organizations will attract talent. Your organization's culture can attract talent. Organizations in the movement have reputations not just for what they do, but how they do it. The movement is small, word travels fast, and if the culture of an organization is poor, nobody will want to work there. By emphasizing the strength of the bonds between colleagues, the socializing that takes place outside of work, and the way supervisors interact with their juniors, conservative organizations will attract talented individuals to whom respect in the workplace is fundamental. Prospects for advancement will attract talent. Unlike the narrative of the left, which says ambition is something to scorn… it's something conservatives celebrate. Conservative organizations seeking to attract the most talented staff must offer a clear pathway to advancement. This is not only important for recruiting the best staff but also for retaining them. Many non-profits find this to be a challenge. Because of limited funds, it is not always possible to promote staff as quickly as they would like. It is, however, possible to grant more autonomy, more responsibility, and better job titles. Talented job seekers want to know they have an exciting future at your organization. Nobody likes feeling their talents are not recognized. By failing to offer clear prospects for advancement, even the staff who do accept your offer may not stay long. How the job seeker is challenged and trained will affect talent retention. Recruiters should establish how their new hire will be tested with projects of high responsibility. The Leadership Institute, for example, prides itself on having the best intern program in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The argument for this is simple; LI gives interns projects of legitimate responsibility. Also, LI invests heavily in their professional development by training them and connecting them with leading conservatives. Job seekers will want confirmation that their role will challenge them and that they will learn new skills they can use to advance conservatism. By making all of these aspects clear to job seekers, you will attract the best and the brightest.
Mother of 7 Changes Homeschooling Families' Lives
Erin Morrissey
July 13, 2017
Mother of 7 Changes Homeschooling Families' Lives
Deep commitment to family and community drives many conservatives into action. For Tracy Klicka, her deep commitment to motherhood and the homeschool movement drives her to help homeschooling families across the nation. She walks beside them to ensure their success in their children's lives. “I think most homeschooling parents need a lot of encouragement,” Tracy said. “You know your kids more than anyone…you are their best advocate, you're their biggest cheerleader, you're the best counselor, you're the best person to watch what walking through life, through challenges and difficulties is.” Today, Tracy is the Director of Development for the Home School Foundation (HSF), a part of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which offers support for homeschool families. “HSF is the heart of HSLDA,” Tracy said. “The heart is to help families who so want to homeschool their children, but they can't afford the cost of curriculum.” Tracy had not always planned to be in such a position. But the challenges and victories she experienced in her life created in her a desire that rings true with the heart of HSF. Tracy attended Grove City College where met her late husband Chris. She continued her studies at Oral Roberts University, where she earned her degree in music education. After Tracy and her husband were married, they moved to DC, where Chris quickly became a leading expert on home education and was the first full-time lawyer for Concerned Women for America (CWA). During this time, Tracy began searching for a job in the area. “I didn't even know where to start looking,” she said. At that time, the Free Congress Foundation needed to fill an executive assistant position for the political action committee. Tracy applied and got the job. While at Free Congress Foundation, Tracy worked with Paul Weyrich, whom she credits with pushing her to develop skills that would later enable her to successfully fulfill her position at HSF. “Paul Weyrich was such an amazing man,” Tracy said. “I put Morton Blackwell up in the very same category as I put Paul -- they are both incredible mentors to young people.” Paul Weyrich sent Tracy to a 3-day women's spokesperson conference at the Leadership Institute (LI). Tracy credits that training with helping her over her fear of public speaking. “Even though it would be almost ten years later before I would give my first talk,” Tracy said, “I really look back at his training and his personal mentorship as what really propelled me in the right direction and really helped me get over [the idea that] I will never speak in public.” Tracy and her husband had 7 children and homeschooled them all. “We knew before we started having kids that we wanted to homeschool, so I was a stay at home Mom homeschooling for about 24 years,” she said. Tragically, after 25 years of marriage, Tracy's husband passed away and Tracy became a single homeschool mother. She needed a part-time job to support herself and her children. Because of her late husband's connections at HSLDA, she began her search there. In 2011, she took her current position as the Director of Development at the Home School Foundation with little knowledge or experience in development. But, this position fulfills her drive to offer support to homeschool families who had been through difficulties like her own. Despite her initial lack of experience, Tracy grew the department and plans further expansion this coming year all while serving as the only person in her department. She single-handedly manages donor relations, writing, planning, data entry, and research. The Leadership Institute, Tracy says, gave “me the best practices and information I need for the different segments of my work responsibility in Development.” LI's development and fundraising trainings have been a great encouragement and resource for Tracy. Through LI's lectures, she has learned the importance of partnerships. “It's really all about relationships. It's really enabling those who want to partner with you because they have a passion for your mission and how you can help them make that happen.” Looking back at her growth in the area of development and fundraising, Tracy remarks about LI, “I can't think of where else I would go [for training]… or who else would I talk to… because you have been doing it for so long… you know so many people in many conservative organizations… you've had a relationship with them for so many years… your longevity gives what you do so much weight and validity.” For years, Tracy had a crippling fear of public speaking; but now she regularly speaks at homeschool conventions where she offers encouragement to parents. She traces her ease and confidence in public speaking back to the training she received at LI. “I really look back at that training as a part of what really helped me get over [the idea] that, I will never speak in public,” Tracy said. Today, Tracy's passion radiates through her voice as she speaks. “We can really come along side our kids,” Tracy tells parents. “Homeschooling is the perfect way to do that.” Although Tracy sees many benefits in homeschooling she states, “Homeschooling didn't prevent my kids from struggling. It's not a formula; but it's an opportunity to walk alongside children and to best prepare them for life and so when they go through those hard times you're right there with them and just by God's grace you try to help them work through some of those things.” She says homeschooling is “walking through life together 24/7.” After her 24 years of homeschooling her children, Tracy confidently says, “My kids are my magnum opus… I don't think I could put anything above the value of motherhood.” She says her life's biggest accomplishment is, “raising seven children who are really incredible adults, who all love life, love learning, and want to engage their culture.” This is what she hopes to help other parents achieve through their homeschooling experience. Her deep commitment and vision are making that happen. As Director of Development for HSF, Tracy is expanding her vision for supporting homeschooling families and fulfilling her biggest motivation. She touches families across America with her love of home education by reaching out to homeschooling families in need, providing wisdom and encouragement as she speaks to them about the homeschooling experience. “I love what I do because it fits with my passion for motherhood and how important a role we have in our children's lives,” she says. Tracy has truly turned her deep commitment into fulfillment. Join me in congratulating Tracy Klicka on her success helping homeschooling families. If you're interested in fundraising or public speaking trainings like the ones Tracy mentioned, you can learn more here. Leadership Institute offers more than 47 types of training programs, works with more than 1,868 conservative student groups, and helps employers connect with conservative job seekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, LI has trained more than 186,207 conservative activists, students, and leaders. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders.